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Debating regional integration for sustainable peace Regional integration for trade, a single passport, connection. But what about for peace?

Photo by Xinhua/REX

The Horn of Africa is a complex security system. It is characterized by conflict and affected by food insecurity, frequent cycles of drought, environmental degradation, widespread poverty and its consequences that fuel or are as a result of this.

Regional integration is increasingly touted as a panacea to the challenges to peace and development in the Horn of Africa. Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) formed in 1986 is the central platform for formal regional integration in the Horn. This year, 2016, is the 30th anniversary of the formation of this regional body.

The major premise behind regional integration is that the enormity, interconnectedness and interdependence of the challenges facing the region can only be addressed using regional capacities and resources. The major argument is that once states and local communities base integration on common interests that include development initiatives such as the construction of infrastructures: railways, roads, air, and sea transport, it is possible to promote integration by bringing people together through trade, travel, and migration. This would then gradually lead to political integration because of the sustained interdependence that social and economic integration affords. Since interdependent states and societies also find less incentive to go to war with each other, integration would also result in peace among states and communities in the region.

The November/December 2015 issue of the Horn of Africa Bulletin (HAB) themed “A Community of Peoples: Bottom up Regional Integration in the Horn of Africa‟ has addressed the issue of integration in the Horn that is driven by bottom-up dynamics. The issue also drew attention to some of the gaps and questions bedevilling regional integration in the Horn and in the process, flagged key policy questions and suggested policy options.

The 3rd HAB Forum taking place on 25 February follows from this issue in a debate that asks “Can regional integration lead to sustainable peace in the Horn of Africa?”

The Horn of Africa Bulletin (HAB) Forum is a bi-monthly, interactive Forum that brings together academic, civil society, governmental and intergovernmental policy stakeholders to deliberate on pertinent topics related to the Horn of Africa. It is inspired by the Life & Peace Institute’s flagship bi-monthly publication – the Horn of Africa Bulletin (HAB) –  which has provided alternative analysis on issues in the Horn for over 25 years.

Subscribe to the Horn of Africa Bulletin here.